The Long Way  

Posted by Donna

I've never been one to take shortcuts.  When I have gone against my better judgement and tried to save time I've become lost, literally or metaphorically.  The process of becoming a horsewoman has re-emphasized the need to take my time in order to be safe and successful. 

I've been able to ride Miss the last two weekends and decided not to take a lesson, I wanted to be able to take things slow and pay attention to how she was responding to me.  She hadn't been ridden in a while so of course Willow wants to give her a shot of Ace.  I told her, I think we'll be fine.  Several more times she offered to give her a shot and each time I politely declined.  I've always felt very strongly that if she has to be drugged, she shouldn't be ridden.

I lunged her for a long time, letting her set the pace, and she galloped and galloped and snorted and bucked and got all that pent-up energy out.  Then I hand-walked her for a long time, and when her breathing was back to normal I got on and walked some more.  She trotted quietly and we worked on stopping in the center of the arena.  Willow was doing a lesson in the arena next to where we were and at one of those moments when we were standing in the center she yells over to us, "Missy has matured so much, she's so much calmer now!"  It was all I could do not to roll my eyes.  I realized that the reason Willow still thinks that Miss is difficult to ride and still wants to take so many precautions is because she takes shortcuts.  She wants the same results you would get by patiently going through all the steps but without the effort.  I also realized that even though Willow has known and ridden Miss her whole life, to her she is just one of many horses.  She's never owned her own horse, she hasn't needed to, with so many horses at her disposal she's been able to do everything she ever wanted, including competing in a few different disciplines, using other people's horses.

While I have gained a lot of technical knowledge by taking lessons on many different horses, having my own horse has taught me the invaluable lesson of patience and how important having a personal relationship is between horse and rider.  I'd like to think that Miss does what I ask of her because she wants to, instead of doing what Willow asks of her because she has to.

I took the picture above on our honeymoon, we camped for the night in the field next to these horses' corral and the next morning a balloon hovered overhead.  I've always felt this was an omen leading me to horses.

This entry was posted on January 23, 2011 at Sunday, January 23, 2011 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


I'm glad you didn't listen to Willow and give her Ace. That's just wrong. If you want to train a horse you don't drug it. You work slowly and patiently with them. Nothing comes easy but in the end it's worth all the time and effort and I'm sure your horse will appreciate you more. I'm just wondering if it's possible to for a horse to even learn and retain anything learned while on tranquilizers.

January 23, 2011 at 3:31 PM

I think it says a great deal about the kind of woman you are that you will take this amount of time and effort to work WITH your horse, treating her like a sentient being who has issues to work through just like the rest of us and isn't a machine. Well done.

January 24, 2011 at 10:52 AM

Boy, am I with Arlene on this. Just the mention of Ace to ride puts my dander up and I doubt their ability to learn and retain when drugged too. Geez, poor Missy, no wonder she's where she is emotionally.

January 24, 2011 at 10:53 AM

Good for you - reminds me, I ought to go back & do some posting about Quig & Baraq's early training...
You wanna talk about CHALLENGING!
(Hey, Quig's nickname is not "Big Dummy" for nuthin'!)
I do confess to giving my ex-mule 5 mg of ace before our 1st LD ride - he was very green & I was 8 wks PG, couldn't afford to get thrown...
(I'd have never heard the end of it ;-)

January 25, 2011 at 11:07 AM

I just wanted to add, that's the ONLY time I've resorted to tranquilization for one of mine - it's been hang on & take my lumps for the rest!
(5 mg is practically a homeopathic dose for a 1200-lb mule anyway - probably didn't do a thing except for my own peace of mind, but hey, I didn't get launched!)

January 25, 2011 at 11:09 AM
Elizabeth Schmidt  

I was really proud to read this post. You show yourself to be a true horsewoman, not someone looking for a push button machine to play games on. Such a big part of riding is being sensitive, being aware and connecting to a magnificent animal. By going through all the steps without taking the shortcut you give Miss the ability to think about what you are doing, and to actually grow stronger and more mature.


February 7, 2011 at 3:20 PM

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